There are a couple of reasons I am writing this post today. This subject has seemed to crop up a few times over the last couple of weeks. First a friend of mine on Facebook was talking about the head-spinning effects of realising the past no longer existed and the only thing that existed was the now.
…..she made many comments that day where she would use the word now repeatedly and in between her sentences. It was clearly an enormous move for her to have realisation of the now and it was well received by her friends too.
Then today, Dan from Single Dad Laughing (blog) posted about the same subject with regards to time – the past, present and future.
Though it is something I have thought about often over the course of my life and a subject of great interest to me, it has never been one that I really shared with others. That is, until today! After hearing my friend’s opinions and thoughts on the matter on Facebook and Dan’s opinion on his blog and after reading all the comments given by others, I decided that now was as good a time as any to share my own thoughts on the matter.
The conclusion I have come to is that the past, present and future all hold their own importance, just as the beginning, middle and end of a book are all important in order to get the whole picture or the full perspective. Sometimes the answers to the present are held in our past, our memories, our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned – or even in the lessons that could be there that we’ve not yet thought about.
For example someone with a nut allergy would be unwise not to consider their PAST experience with nuts when offered a peanut butter sandwich TODAY, by this same token that same person would be unwise to make a choice to eat that sandwich NOW without considering the consequences of that choice in the FUTURE. In this scenario we can see that the past, the present and the future are all just as important and significant as one another and that by only living in the now without considering the past and the future could lead to a life and death situation.
Without considering the past, criminals would not be tried in a court of law and justice could not be served, without considering the past in fact, none of us would ever be held accountable for our actions, we would have no need for a conscience, no need to apologise to people we hurt or to make amends for things we have done wrong. We would be unable to learn by our mistakes or by others mistakes and we would drift from one bad situation to another because we’d not think of the future consequences of our actions. In fact, to resort to thinking that only the now was important we would very quickly and easily become psychopaths that had no empathy for others and no remorse for our actions! Life would become very superficial.
Of course there would always (I hope) be some good people that even if they only lived in the present would do good deeds simply because that was what made them happy in the now and if luck was on their side then they would not drift from bad situation to bad situation – but that would surely be playing a game of chance? After all, they would not be looking before crossing the road to see if a car was coming in the future….or checking their rear view mirrors before pulling out in to another lane. There would be no need to set alarm clocks for work the next day if the future did not exist!
There would be no hope for the future because only the now exists! There would be no lessons learned by the past, because only the now exists!
I think though that the important point in the ideology of time not really existing is that it means that the bad things that have happened to us in the past are no longer happening to us now! It means that we can challenge our thoughts and beliefs that we’ve held in the past because they are in the past! It means we can try to adopt new concepts and to change our way of thinking and belief system. If we’ve been told for years how we ‘should’ live our life and allowed that past event to dictate our lives now, we can question it and see if it is something that is relevant NOW in the present. We can choose to discard those thoughts if we believe them to be damaging or untrue for us now. If you were told you were worthless you can question that and choose to discard it…the only reason you believe it is because of past events and those past events no longer exist, life as you know it now has changed.
Perhaps you can go through all your own negative thoughts and opinions and challenge them all? Is there anything in your life that you have thought or believed for a long time or an event in your life that you’ve allowed to control your life in the present day negatively? Perhaps you could challenge those things now? Perhaps you could think carefully about what lessons you have learned from them? What positive things have come from them? And if you’ve not learned anything from them yet, maybe there is still something to learn from them?
Some of us keep journals, scrap books or take photo’s to remember things in our life, good and bad things, as hard evidence of what has happened in the past. To remind us of the good times, to make us smile, to help us heal maybe?
There is nothing wrong with holding on to our memories nor thinking about the future, what is important is that we do so in a manner that is helpful to us, productive, positive! In fact it’s okay if we want to sit and feel sorry for ourselves, to indulge ourselves in a bit of self nurturing – as long as we don’t become obsessed by it in a way that is not helpful to us. It’s about gaining some balance and some perspective.
Think of a driver in a car who doesn’t use their mirrors, doesn’t ever look behind them, pulls out in traffic without checking the traffic first, speeds past a cyclist and doesn’t check the mirror after having gone past. They are a danger to everyone else on the road! If they’ve hit the cyclist they are unaware and unable to offer any help that might be needed, they may pull out and hit another car. However if a driver spends their whole time looking in the mirrors and not looking at the road ahead of them then they also pose a danger to everyone else on the road! There needs to be a balance, they need to be aware of what is going on inside the car – changing gears, the foot pedals, the steering wheel, the passengers but they also need to be aware of what is in front of them, to the side of them and behind them. They need to look out for road signs, markings on the road, pedestrians crossing, the traffic behind them etc…. And all of those things are just as important as each other!
Life is just like that! You are important, those around you are important, what is in front of you is important, what is behind is important and what you do now is important.
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